"On a bright Tuesday afternoon last month, I brought cupcakes, party hats and juice boxes to my daughter’s classroom for her sixth birthday. As we don’t have a second car, I trekked to her school with all her party supplies in a broken Radio Flyer wagon, out of breath and jiggling and turning the wheels with every bump in the road, cursing the missing screw in the handle. When I walked her home after school with what I didn’t yet know was pink frosting all over my left breast, I asked her if she had a good birthday. She bounced over the crack in the sidewalk. “I had the best birthday ever, Mama! Because you were there,” she replied, reaching out for my hand.
I looked at her broad, genuine smile and my heart leaped. I felt loved and appreciated in the work of parenting I do each day, which helped blunt the sting of uncertainty I continue to feel nearly a year after leaving my full-time job as an academic dean for freelance writing, research and time at home with our girls. I had been exhausted maintaining (not “balancing,” like a fairy on a pinpoint) a work life of increased demands with the kind of parent I wanted to be, and something had to give. While my days are now filled with many moments of grace and the fleeting touch of fingertips eager to hold me, working from home is fraught with tensions I had not anticipated. I have grown into this chosen role slowly, unveiling a fresh skin and flexibility I didn’t realize I had."